I’ve lagged a little bit on keeping up with my writing of these reviews promptly after finishing each book, and it’s now been several weeks since I finished All the Birds in the Sky. So I’ll keep this one very brief.
I liked it well enough, and I enjoyed it as I was reading it, and my interest was sufficiently piqued to propel me through the thing, but this particular sort of action-packed, fast-paced, futuristic novel didn’t appeal to my tastes all that much. I am undeniably a fan of dystopian-future fiction, but this was different. This was kind of like reading a YA novel.
Now, I’ve never read Anders prior to this, but All the Birds made some waves and caught my attention. Apparently, she wrote several novels and stories prior to this, some critically acclaimed, but All the Birds is her first novel for adults, which may explain some of my perception as I read it that there were elements of YA fiction present.
I was most intrigued by the early chapters of the novel, during which our two protagonists were young children, and I couldn’t help myself, later on in the book, wishing that more time had been spent during their respective childhoods.
The plot is basically as follows. A young boy and a young girl, who meet at school as young children and become good friends, have a kind of turbulent, oddly-dramatic-for-their-age kind of relationship. The girl, Patricia Delfine, grows up to become a very powerful magician, while the boy, Laurence Armstead, becomes a renowned scientist. The novel rockets toward an all-encompassing showdown between magic and science, with our two protagonists at the center of it all. Essentially, humankind is on the verge (due to the very true-seeming future scenario of us having fucked up the planet so much that it can’t sustain us any longer) of extinction, and the two camps, science and magic, disagree about how we should proceed in saving humanity.
Now, I don’t want to be too harsh. The book was enjoyable, and its plot about this ultimate and devastating battle between science and magic was, as I was reading it, suspenseful and riveting. And I may very well be off here, as the novel received a bunch of critical acclaim, including being a finalist for both the Hugo and the Nebula Awards, the two most significant awards for science fiction and fantasy literature. Nevertheless, I found myself just generally nonplussed as I read it.